Rob Wilson, the former charities minister, has accused Oxfam of having a left-wing bias and, reacting to a tweet by the charity, said it had "disappeared up its own, morally righteous, posterior".
Writing on The Daily Telegraph newspaper’s website today, Wilson said the charity "stands accused of being anti-capitalist and anti-Conservative". He called on larger charities to employ more right-leaning people in senior leadership positions.
His comments, he said, were sparked by a tweet from the charity’s account after the publication of its report on inequality, Reward Work, Not Wealth, which Wilson described as "error-strewn".
Responding to a tweet from a member of the public, the Oxfam account tweeted back that society had an "extreme form of capitalism that only works for those at the top".
At the moment we have an extreme form of capitalism that only works for those at the top. That is why we are calling for governments to manage our economies so that they work for everyone and not just the fortunate few - Grace 2/2— Oxfam (@oxfamgb) January 22, 2018
In his article, Wilson said some had accused the charity of being "a front-group for extreme left-wing Corbynistas".
He said: "It certainly gives every impression of being incapable of evidence-based rational argument about the ongoing success of western economies or capitalism in general."
Wilson said it was concerning that the charity believed it could "sail so close to the wind", pointing to the charity’s 2014 social media campaign, which suggested austerity was a "perfect storm" that forced people in the UK into poverty. This led to the charity being criticised by the Charity Commission.
"Oxfam, like a number of large international charities, has been so blinded by the political correctness of the chattering classes, it has disappeared up its own, morally righteous, posterior," he said.
The former Conservative minister and MP for Reading East, who lost his seat in the 2017 general election, said Oxfam’s position was "terribly disappointing" for those like himself who had spoken up for the sector in government.
"Some government ministers already regard the charity sector with suspicion because it largely employs senior people with a left-wing perspective on life and because of other unfair criticisms of the government, including the British Red Cross saying there was a humanitarian crisis in the NHS," he said.
"It means there is regularly a tension between big charities and the Conservative Party."
He said the charity sector had much to offer and a Conservative government would be wise to work with charities to provide public services, but these should be delivered through contracts, not grants.
"Working with government, and all political parties, will remain important, but the leadership of the big charities must stop being so overtly pro-left," he said.
"They must provide balance by hiring new right-leaning people and change their focus. It’s time to stop campaigning for more state handouts and instead become partners in a social reform programme. Only then will the charity sector make the most of its huge potential and the enormous goodwill of the public."
He added: "As the stresses and strains on the public sector become more and more evident, charities are needed to deliver the better outcomes at the lower cost the country needs. Wouldn't that be better, Oxfam, than supporting failed left-wing economic models that wish everybody could be equally poor?"